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Take on the thugs and the thuggery

To admonish the man for proclaiming a dangerous parochial ideology and unleashing an anti-Indian spree of violence is not a difficult task.

india Updated: Oct 21, 2008 22:28 IST

Raj Thackeray is a lucky man. Unlike for the most of us, when Mr Thackeray sends out a word to his henchmen to unleash terror on the streets of an Indian city, authorities first debate about whether arresting him would be a wise thing or not, and then they take action. With elections round the corner, it’s understandable for the Maharashtra government to wonder whether arresting the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) leader would only make him a stronger rallying point for a section of disgruntled Maharashtrians or not. It’s understandable but totally uncalled for. So when Mr Thackeray was arrested in the earliest hours of Tuesday at Ratnagiri, we were relieved to find that February 13, when he was arrested ten days after unleashing violence against north Indians, was not repeated on October 21.

The MNS leader has been arrested under Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of language) and has been remanded to jail till November 4. For the

Vilasrao Deshmukh government to not fall for the bait — Mr Thackeray’s earlier threat, “Let them go ahead and arrest me. After my arrest Maharashtra will burn” — is commendable. But the question is why have things been allowed to come to a state where law and order issues have become politically-motivated? Is it because the state of Maharashtra is genuinely nervous of upsetting Mr Thackeray’s army of goons? Or is it because treating him with moderate kid gloves (two cases against Mr Thackeray are still pending in Maharashtra itself) serves a purpose for all political players? Either way, Mumbai has been allowed to be turned into a city under the thrall of thugs.

To admonish the man for proclaiming a dangerous parochial ideology and unleashing an anti-Indian spree of violence is not a difficult task. But the same ‘pan-Indians’, whether in Delhi or other parts of the country, are yet to make valid and legitimate inquiries about the MNS’s character and funding. To allow Mr Thackeray to grow either because of errors of commission or of omission would be a grave mistake. The law should strike and strike hard against the votaries of violence and segregation.